SGA: $1.6M raise can’t fight inflation

At the March 7 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA), senators were informed that the $1.6 million increase in funding to the College’s base appropriation for fiscal year 2008 is a negligible sum that will yield only a minor net gain in the total appropriation.

Michael Strom, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs, explained the new base appropriation of $1.6 million merely adjusts the budget cuts for inflation.

According to the Web site of the U.S. Department of Labor, the New York/New Jersey area has undergone a 3.2 percent increase in its rate of inflation. The College received a 4.6 percent increase in its appropriation, yielding a net increase of 1.4 percent when including inflation.

Strom noted the College lacks a substantial amount of funding. The Outstanding Scholarship Recruitment Program is still without funding under the new budget. Additionally, funding of salary increases for faculty and staff have been minimal.

Dan Beckelman, vice president of Administration and Finance, urged SGA members to participate in the upcoming 2007 election for New Jersey state offices. Beckelman said there is need for a change in the administration.

Beckelman stressed the importance of placing partisanship aside to fully restore lost funding and secure a better future for New Jersey. “It’s about the future of the state and quality of life,” Beckelman said.

Strom touted the success of the March 1 budget cuts presentation. The presentation, which was attended by approximately 75 students, featured state assemblyman and adjunct professor Reed Gusciora. Gusciora helped outline the detriments of the budget cuts and encouraged students to vote in order to reverse the cuts.

“Everyone who went to the presentation came back saying that they learned so much,” Strom said.

Strom said lobbying efforts will continue “to try and get more student advocacy.” These efforts will include table sittings in Brower Student Center, which will give students a chance to sign petitions regarding the higher education budget cuts. Strom mentioned plans for a rally to protest the cuts.

Strom and Beckelman discussed the outcome of a lobbying meeting with Raymond Lesniak, a state senator from District 20. Strom and Beckelman said Lesniak seemed sympathetic to the restoration of lost funding. Lesniak recommended privatizing the New Jersey Turnpike as a means of getting funding for the College.

Sheil Naik, sophomore senator at-Large, announced the College has been considering the iTunes U service. The iTunes U service is hosted by Apple Inc. and would allow for distribution of educational materials, such as recordings of speeches, made by guest lecturers. iTunes U is based on the same technology as the iTunes store. Implementation of the program would come at no cost to the College and would only require the setup of a small recording device minutes prior to a lecture.

Naik said Apple discussed the idea with the College’s Information Technology department. Matthew Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, has developed an authorization form for guest speakers which will allow them to give the College permission to record speeches.

According to Chris Rindosh, vice president of Student Services, The Pulse, an SGA sponsored student forum and poll, is scheduled to debut the week of March 18. The Pulse will serve as a means of collecting student feedback for both SGA and the College administration. Currently, additional polls and questions are under development.